WSPD

Apparently today is World Suicide Prevention Day.  This is bringing up emotions not because of the suggested candle-lighting tonight around 8pm, but more because of an email I got this morning from the survivors of suicide forum which I joined last year.  The email was asking for volunteers to spend an hour on the forum, responding to more recent survivors and trying to give them what we needed while we were at that point in our grieving – which distills down to understanding and hope. 

So, I went to the website to sign up, since this seemed like something I could definitely do.  When I got there and started reading through some of the recent entries though, I was struck with the image of reading them as if I was on the shore watching the writer flailing in the choppy waters, trying to pull themselves toward the shore but not getting anywhere.  

Side-note: vacationing in Ocracoke several years ago, my family was swimming in the ocean (or in the sound?) and accidentally discovered what a “rip tide” is.  Siblings and cousins were all in the water playing, with several parents/aunts/uncles looking on from the shore.  At some point one of the younger kids figured out that, try as they might, they could not swim back to the shore – and once the adults realized this, chaos ensued.  I do not remember being scared until Joel, who was nearby, latched onto me — all the while kicking and thrashing and freaking out and doing everything he knew, as a small child, to do to keep his head above water.  As the oldest kid there, I hadn’t needed help getting back to the shore, but once I was working to keep both myself AND Joel afloat, I started to get scared.  He kept pulling me under, and I didn’t think that I could carry both of us back.  I remember feeling very much out of control and frightened – especially since he was feeling about a million times more out of control and frightened than I was.  Thankfully, an uncle came and took Joel so that I was able to focus on getting myself back to shore – no biggie once Joel was gone.

I mention that experience to say that looking at those entries this morning reminded me of how I felt in the water at Ocracoke.  These people who are just now writing about how they’ve recently lost a loved one to suicide are kicking and screaming and thrashing and freaking out just like Joel did, and for the same basic reasons – they feel out of control (because the illusion that you have any control over another person’s body and mind is hard to shake) and frightened, and they don’t know how/if/when they’ll be getting back to solid ground.

Not only do they remind me of Joel on that day, but feelings that I have about being on the forum are reminding me of myself that day too; the thought of getting “back in the water” to try to help them out is a little bit scary for me.  I’m not afraid of floundering, and maybe “afraid” is not even the right word for me to be using.  I’m hesitant though.  I’m nervous about the emotions and memories that will inevitably come up again if I really engage with someone in the forum.  Even if I can throw someone a life jacket, I can’t pull them to the shore.  I can help them to stay afloat, but that’s all, and it takes so much more energy to stay afloat than it does to drown.  

I think I’m still going to volunteer to go over to the forum for an hour, but it’s going to have to be an hour after work, when I don’t have to worry about my calm, professional front.  I don’t want to avoid doing things – especially potentially helpful things – because I am scared or nervous.  That’s not a good way to go through life at all. 

Anyway, wanted to write about it instead of just ignoring my initial thoughts and feelings.  I’m trying to address my life head-on.

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Also,

May 31st was the 2 year anniversary of my having to take Matt to the ER for the first time. I was going to blog about it, but ended up staying busy all day and it slipped my mind. This is an entry from June 4th 2012, though.

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My husband, the man who has been sharing my bed and home and life for the past five years, is in a psychiatric hospital after trying to kill himself four days ago.

I need an outlet for my thoughts and feelings – one that can handle more honesty than my in-laws or parents or friends can or should. Not that I necessarily want to even have to face all that honesty by myself, but I feel like I shouldn’t deny or ignore the realities of my thoughts and feelings.

I don’t feel like going over all the details of what happened on Thursday, and I don’t think all the details are important anyway.

I’m crying less. I guess that’s good, though it doesn’t mean that I feel any less sad, lonely, desperate, or depressed than before. It just means that sobbing so much gives me a headache and dehydrates me. And there’s no one around to rub my back and neck anymore when they hurt, so I might as well try to avoid things that make them ache more.

My biggest, biggest, biggest fear is that he’ll feel the same when he comes home, and try to kill himself again like he promised he would over and over on the day I drove him to the ER. I don’t think he’ll make his goal of 10 days since I doubt they’ll release him from the hospital before then, but I’m sure he can lengthen the deadline as needed. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to tell when he starts feeling this way again, since he’s so adept at pretending that he’s fine when he’s anything but. And I, in my utter foolishness, pretend that he actually is fine, since I don’t want to face the reality of the pain and horror that’s underneath his façade. But my oblivion doesn’t help anything. I keep telling myself that none of this is my fault………but a little voice in the back of my head also keeps whispering that maybe if I had been more dedicated to helping him stay focused on being healthy, maybe we wouldn’t be here right now.

I can’t imagine losing my husband. That’s a lie – I can imagine it, and it’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever imagined. So much worse than giving up my baby for adoption. At least she’s alive and happy and I can feel good about that decision. If I was to lose my husband…. How do people cope with that kind of loss??? I’m having a hard time motivating myself to do the mundane but necessary things in life as it is – how much worse would it be if I didn’t have the hope of getting my husband back???

Surprisingly, I’m doing a pretty good job of not taking his suicide attempt personally. I know that it’s the abuse that is making him hopelessly depressed, and the drugs his psychiatrist has been randomly prescribing haven’t helped. I know that it’s not me. But this also makes me feel helpless to help him at all. All I can do is go visit him every day, as much as he will let me, and let him know that I love him and will not abandon him (as he has expected me to do ever since we got together). I can prove him wrong. But I can’t make that help him feel better. I hope that it will…but I have no control over his brain chemistry.

I feel pretty useless overall right now. I don’t even know how to make myself feel better – let alone him. Everything that I do, everywhere that I go, something reminds me of him and makes my heart ache with missing him. I’ve been trying to avoid being home by myself, but I can’t get away from missing him.

If I pretend today is Monday, tomorrow will be a pleasant surprise!

Man I’m horrible at titles.

I’m at work and am bored, so this. Though I don’t have anything hugely important to say.

The guy in the cubicle next to me makes me wonder sometimes. He’s an older guy (think aging hippie type) and he basically sits at his desk and mutters under his breath most of the day. Sometimes he just laughs. Sometimes he complains to no one. Sometimes he hums. Sometimes I swear that he mocks other coworkers when they cough or laugh or just make too much noise. At outward appearances, he seems like a very sweet guy. But man, sitting next to him makes me think that it’s all a show and that he’s really a very bitter person.

Anyway, that rant because he was just mocking someone a few cubicles over because she was laughing too loudly. WTF.

Oh well! I don’t let it get to me. I’m not bitter.

It’s been an interesting few days. Chris’s funeral was on Sunday, and to be honest, I cried more than I did at Matt’s funeral (which isn’t saying much since I barely cried at Matt’s, but still). I felt a little guilty because I didn’t know Chris all that well, so the emotions that it brought up were related to missing Matt, to feeling sorry for myself, feeling sorry for Emily, feeling sorry for Chris’s parents. I guess that’s OK though. Emily was in town yesterday too, so we went out for dinner and drinks (along with her brother and Amanda’s fiance). Talking to Emily brought up some emotions that I haven’t felt in quite a while (I guess this is what you call a “trigger”…), but it was good. Not fun, but good. There’s comfort in knowing that as shitty as it gets, you aren’t alone. It’s not the comfort we’re looking for, but it’ll do.

Sometimes I still get mad because I can’t trade these life lessons and maturity back for Matt.

In other, less depressing news, Joel’s actually coming to Nashville tonight. Like, who thought it would ever actually happen?!?! The plan thus far is to do a month as a trial period, to make sure he can get a job and that we don’t want to kill each other and all that. I told him he could have the library but that I wasn’t going to be moving any of the furniture, heh. Except the chair — but I keep forgetting about that. Maybe I’ll do that tonight. Uncle Ross is driving Joel up and apparently they’re stopping for groceries and making dinner! Which just sounds awesome!

Last piece of news. There are still people who I see every day at work whose names I still don’t know. What’s worse is that they all seem to know my name. Don’t tell anyone, please. It’s kind of embarrassing.

Coming back

I thought we were going to be able to get through the whole vacation with no traveling drama — but no.  I was proven wrong.

The flight from Dulles to BNA should have been smooth-sailing……but for whatever reason, we had to go through a complete security check after arriving in DC – even though we had all literally just gotten off of the airplane and had gone through security in the UK.  The flight got in around 8:30pm, so their staff was already slimmed down.  Customs didn’t take too long to get through, but the security check was awful.  Katie got into the left line, and I got into the right line; she made the flight, and I didn’t.  I don’t know if you can imagine me running through an airport, but I definitely did.  By the time I got to the right gate, I was about 5 minutes late and soaked in sweat. 

Luckily……they were able to find me a seat on a flight leaving at 7 the next morning.  So I spent the night in the airport.  It was pretty awful. 

But all’s well that ends well, right?  I made it back safe and sound, didn’t lose or forget anything, and I’m glad to be home.

Here are a few pictures that I never put up.

ImageImageImageImage

In other news, one of my friends has joined the dead husband club — he killed himself yesterday afternoon.  This is a friend who used to be a coworker at B&C, and she and I and Amanda used to hang out all the time.  This is the friend who gave us the Lucilles.  She had moved back home (with husband and baby) a year or so ago so we haven’t been in touch lately, but I always felt a connection with her through – if nothing else – the fact that we both married suicidal men. 

I wish I didn’t know how she felt.  It’s day two for her, which makes me think back to day two for me and how utterly horrible it all was.  “Utterly horrible” feels like an understatement.  To be more accurate, I’d say that the Me who lived with Matt died when he did, and the whole last year has been my struggle to revive and redefine myself and my life. 

Anyway.  I should go back to work. 

Learning to pretend there’s more than love that matters.

I almost feel like I should maybe apologize for being too honest — but isn’t that what I’m going for here?

Last night I dreamt that Matt said he wouldn’t sleep with me because I was too ugly. When I asked for clarification (too ugly meaning too fat? or just too ugly in general?) he wouldn’t elaborate. Weird that I don’t really remember the context here — but it had something to do with us being separated for a while; he said this once we were back together. But seriously, brain, wtf? Why do you think I want to wake up with this on my mind, huh?

So to fight off feeling too ugly for sex, I showered and dried my hair and am EVEN wearing makeup today. Also I’m out of clean clothes so I’m wearing the dress I got for Anna Laura and Marshall’s wedding, which is mid-thigh length and making me feel slightly immodest (not the desired effect – just what happens when I have no clean clothes).

That’s what I get for not doing laundry, though.

Along with reminding myself that Matt thought I was pretty, I also was thinking about a line from an Indigo Girls song this morning — “Learn to pretend there’s more than love that matters” (from “Love Will Come To You” which was my mantra before meeting Matt). You know how everyone always says that as a single person, you should be focused on YOU and YOUR LIFE rather than being focused on finding a SO? And that if you can make your life into something you love without needing another person around, then when you do find someone else they will just enhance your current life rather than defining it (or whatever the other alternatives to “enhance” would be). I’ve always subscribed to this philosophy, but in the back of my mind I wonder if it’s actually true.

And I say that just because in the 5 years that I was with Matt, my life was just so many worlds better than it was before. It wasn’t doing things that made me happy — it was just being with Matt. Which sounds so weird, coming from such an introvert (who is almost happier by myself than with most people).

But I get nervous sometimes — what if I never find that level of happiness again? It’s safer to take the “bettering yourself instead of looking for love” path, since you have much more control over the outcome. But that’s really second best, isn’t it? I’m not sure if I’m depressed about this or not, though; there is plenty of happiness and contentment to be had by myself. And it IS true that “bettering myself” (I hate that term) will make me feel better in general and increase my self confidence (etc).

Well anyway. These are all the thoughts I had on the subject I guess.

I was standing in front of Matt’s portrait last night and started crying. It was a new cry though – I wasn’t crying because I was sad that Matt is gone. I was crying because I was sad that life is so futile. We think we’re suck a huge fucking deal, but we aren’t. And Matt will be forgotten. I will be forgotten. Literally almost every single person who has lived, will live, or is alive now, will be forgotten. We will all die, and our bodies will turn back into dust.

I wish I knew what happened to our consciousnesses. Most of the crying was because I believe that they just cease to be.

Milestones

I can now say with conviction that this day last year was worlds worse than today this year will be. Of course, there’s always the possibility that something worse than my husband dying could happen to me today, but it’s very very unlikely.

I’m back at work this Monday morning, and feeling kind of normal and blah. The weekend was very good, which was a surprise to me (given which weekend it was). I took Friday off, and spent all day with Katie and Ryan. We hiked Hidden Lakes in the morning, then got breakfast/lunch at Wendell Smith’s, then migrated to the Brewhouse and McKay’s after. It was a good day. On Sunday, I got up and hiked by myself at Beaman Park. It was wonderful. I’ve decided that solo hiking is one of the best things in the world.

The weekend was as full of distractions as I wanted it to be, but I also had plenty of time to think and reflect. I have no profound insights to offer from those times though – ha. Instead of my own insights, I thought I’d just share these two quotes.

I put this one on FB on Friday, but it’s just EXACTLY how this last year has felt. Actually, I’ll tack on a few extra lines, too.

Every day
I play in repertory the same
script without you, without love,
without audience except for Gus,
who waits attentive
for cues: a walk, a biscuit,
bedtime. The year of days
without you and your body swept by
as quick as an afternoon;
but each afternoon took a year.
(from “Letter After A Year” by Donald Hall)

While I’m at it, here’s another thing I keep meaning to share (but couldn’t remember where I’d read it until recently).

“The book also says that coping with difficult times is like being in a conical shell-shaped spiral and there is a point at each turn that is very painful and difficult. That is your particular problem or sore spot. When you are at the narrow, pointy end of the spiral you come back to that situation very often as the rotations are quite small. As you go around, you will go through the troubled time less and less frequently but still you must come back to it, so you shouldn’t feel when it happens that you are back to square one.” (From Bridget Jones’s Diary heh.)

Let’s see here.

I’m in a weird mood, so we’ll see how this blog entry goes. (Weird mood = somewhere between contentious, lazy, and bloated [as feel have gained 10 pounds in the last 36 hours])

First of all, I had a great weekend, which was surprising but very welcome. Friday, which was Valentine’s Day, was great. I did have a “date” thing I guess, whatever, but also my boss got married that day which helped my mood incredibly. This boss has two kids and was divorced, and married a guy who has three kids and is divorced. And she is the sweetest person in the world — and was just so, so happy on Friday (I saw pictures). Just seeing their happiness made me feel better.

Saturday was productive — I cleaned the house which was long overdue, and then hung out with Katie that night. Yesterday I pretty much stayed home except for a trip to Target for necessities (e.g. cat food and litter) and to Aldi for groceries. Made some peanut butter cookies which are probably the reason I feel like I gained 10 pounds since Saturday night. Ugh.

I’m brainstorming things to do on Friday. I’m taking the day off, and Katie and Ryan are also off, so I’m planning on spending all day with them pretty much. Going to do a day hike and then go to Wendell Smith’s for breakfast. Past that, I’m still planning.

So Anna Laura made a comment that made me want to say something. I feel like people are kind of nervous or afraid to talk to me about Matt and all the surrounding events. Maybe they’re afraid of being triggers or something – I’m not sure. But… let me put it this way. For Matt to suddenly disappear from my life last February was horrible, but for him to also disappear from conversation and everything else just makes it that much worse. Does that make sense? He’s gone, and I can’t help that. But it makes his absence even more poignant and worse when people are afraid to talk about him. So PLEASE don’t EVER hesitate to bring him up around me, or to ask me questions, or to make comments. I miss him so much, and for people to avoid talking about him makes the missing worse, not better.

I kind of want to put that on FB, but that would be too much attention. So anyway, there you have it, and tell your friends. I’m not afraid of my past and I’m not afraid of integrating it into my present and future.

stability

sometimes I feel like the thing I hate the most is my lack of (perceived) stability at times. when Matt was alive, even when he was in the hospital or not doing well, I still felt basically stable and grounded and assured of his love for me. I knew that as long as he was alive, he’d be with me.

now though, not only do I realize that I am never really assured of stability, but I also don’t have anyone in my life who is committed to loving me as much as Matt did. there are two sides of that coin; on the one hand, it means that I could pretty much pick up and go anywhere – I have no real roots in Nashville anymore except Katie. on the other hand, this makes me feel like I’m drowning sometimes. or like I’m drifting in the ocean, and am affected by everything that causes a current near my life. I have never been good at accepting and embracing instability.

sometimes I feel like withdrawing from everyone except my closest and dearest friends, and spending more time in the woods. I’m going to try to at least spend time in the woods this weekend. I know the woods – they are my friends. they have always been there for me, and always make me feel better, and I feel at home in them. in the woods, I almost feel more whole than I do when I’m at home.